Maritime NZ people

Read about some of the people who are doing great things at Maritime NZ, including those working behind the scenes.

Dave Billington

Manager - Pacific Maritime Safety Programme

Dave Billington

“I was part of a large team of committed Maritime NZ staff and external stakeholders tasked with responding to New Zealand’s biggest maritime shipping incident.”

Dave Billington names his role in the Rena response and recovery as one of his proudest career moments at Maritime NZ. Ten years on, and after seventeen years with Maritime NZ, he’s still part of our crew – now supporting our Pacific neighbours as Manager of the Pacific Maritime Safety Programme.

Here’s Dave on his journey from fisherman – “the hardest job in the maritime sector” – to managing our Pacific Maritime Safety Programme, and some of his achievements along the way.

Please tell us a bit about your background…
I started my career at sea as an inshore fisherman then moved onto deep sea fishing, ending my fishing years as skipper.

At the start of the decline of the UK fishing industry I transferred into the Merchant Navy, and was the first UK fisherman to transfer as a watch keeping officer. I worked my way up the ranks and gained a UK Master Mariner qualification. I finished my sea-going career as a captain with P&O on class 2A roll-on roll-off passenger vessels in UK waters. 

In 2004, I immigrated to New Zealand to take up a position with Maritime NZ as a maritime investigator. Since then I’ve worked in a number of roles for Maritime NZ, including sitting on the Executive Team as Acting Deputy Director.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
As Manager of the Pacific Maritime Safety Programme, my job is to support our Pacific maritime neighbours with all sorts of maritime capacity building.  The key focus is maritime safety and pollution prevention. A typical day involves a broad range of activities, including developing and supporting strategic direction, capacity building, coaching, mentoring and training key stakeholders.

With no ability to travel for the foreseeable future, our team is working extensively to support our Pacific colleagues online via Teams and Zoom. This is challenging, particularly when you factor in technical limitations with some of the countries we work with. We’re fortunate to have great relationships with our Pacific partners and are making good progress, despite not being able to visit in person.

We’re currently focused on several significant projects, including a review of Pacific Maritime Safety Programme member countries’ maritime legislation and e-learning modules to support our training and education work. Our other key projects include legal reform, international regulations, vessel builds, and safety and maintenance systems – to name but a few.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy supporting an amazing Pacific Maritime Safety Programme team in delivering an effective and efficient safety programme in the Pacific.

What do you find most challenging?
COVID-19 has a significant impact on the programme, namely reducing our ability to travel.  As a team we’ve always been agile and dynamic to ensure the individual Pacific Islands’ needs are met, along with the key objectives of the programme.

Adjusting and adapting to remote working while still adding value to the programme has involved a lot of creative thinking and change with regard to how the programme is delivered. 

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
I enjoy learning more about it. It’s a diverse sector with many different challenges, some of which require complex projects to deliver an improved safety outcome. Although I’ve been involved with the maritime sector for a number of years, I never stop learning.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
There have been many – too many to list – and it’s hard to specify one moment. However, at the top of the list would be managing the Pacific Maritime Safety Programme and being involved with an amazing team of creative individuals that add so much value to maritime safety in the Pacific.

Being involved with the Rena response and recovery was also a fantastic opportunity. I was part of a large team of committed Maritime NZ staff and external stakeholders tasked with responding to New Zealand’s biggest maritime shipping incident. Eventually, I was part of a  team supporting the ‘long tail’ of the response and recovery, remaining in Tauranga after the Maritime NZ-led response to the initial incident and oil spill was wound down, to provide oversight of the salvage operation, which went on for many months.

What’s your biggest achievement to date (personal or professional)?

Professionally: I started my maritime career in the UK fishing industry with a limited educational background. It was a hard job, long hours, tough conditions and a dangerous environment. In fact, fishing has to be one of the hardest jobs in the maritime sector. I climbed the fishing industry ladder to skipper and, against all odds, managed to transfer into the Merchant Navy to further my career at sea.  The journey from Fishing Boat Deckhand to Master Mariner and then to Captain of P&O Ferries was hard, involving many months and years of sea time, challenging study, and financial hardship.  

My biggest personal achievement has to be meeting the love of my life (Sarah) in New Zealand and sharing the experience of having a wonderful daughter (Lucy) together. I do have to acknowledge the challenges both Sarah and Lucy face looking after a Northern Englishman who spent the best part of 20 years at sea is an even bigger achievement!

What are the values that drive you?
Professionally, I try my best to live Maritime NZ’s core values: Respect, Commitment and Integrity. I don’t always get it right, however, the PMSP team members are always quick to get me back on track.

Personally, I try my best to be a decent person, always see the good in life, and treat others with respect.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I enjoy hanging out with the family – they keep me busy and remind me about the values of life.

Paul Craven

Manager – Certification

Paul Craven

“The Certification team is a fantastic bunch of people who genuinely care about the seafarers and operators they’re working with and will bend over backwards to help.”

Paul Craven joined Maritime NZ as Operation Support Officer at the Rescue Coordination Centre NZ (RCCNZ) in 2010. After working his way up through the ranks at RCCNZ and then leading our COVID-19 Response team, Paul has recently moved his attention to certification, and says improving the way the system works his “greatest priority”.

Below Paul fills us in on how his ‘sparky’ qualification led him to where he is today, and what he’s now focussing on as the manager of our Certification team.

When asked, I tell people I’m a ‘sparky by trade’, even though I haven’t practiced for a while now. I guess, like many mariners with qualifications, it’s because I’m proud of my trade. I worked hard to achieve the qualification, with four years of training, involving multiple exams in theory and legislation along with practical assessments.

I worked for 16 years directly in the trade, on the tools (including working on ships) and in various management roles. Then, after a stint as a sparky in Australia, I became an apprentice coordinator with the Electro-Technology Industry Training Organisation (ETITO), a job which evolved later into an area manager role. As well as being involved in training, qualification and certification development, I worked closely with the Electrical Registration Board and the Electrical Contractors Association.

In my private life, I was an avid sailor, racing everything from centre boarders, trailer sailors and keelers. I was also a Coastguard master, unit training officer and an accredited search and rescue tutor.

I combined my skills in search and rescue and training to take on a new role of Operational Support Officer at the RCCNZ, a division of Maritime NZ, in 2010. Over the next ten years, I progressed to Training Manager, Operations Manager and, for the final six months, Acting Manager of RCCNZ and Safety Services.

After COVID-19 reached our shores, I formed a new team at Maritime NZ to help with the all-of-government response. Our regular meetings with port managers and stevedore companies, as well as fishing, pilots, cruise and shipping agent associations, gave me a good understanding of the pressures the maritime industry faces.

Then a couple of months ago, I welcomed the opportunity to manage the Certification team. It’s a team I have a lot of synergy for as I know what it’s like to work in a licenced and regulated industry, from both sides of the fence – as a sparky, and as the organisation issuing the certificates and working with the regulator.

The Certification team is a fantastic bunch of people who genuinely care about the seafarers and operators they’re working with and will bend over backwards to help. But I’m also aware that aspects of the certification and exemptions processes need work. Maritime NZ also recognises this and, as you’ll read in this issue of SeaChange, we’ve started work on the ‘Certification Transformation’ project, which is designed to greatly improve the process. As the manager, I can assure you that these changes are my highest priority.

Rere Hammond

COVID-19 Recovery Team Manager

Rere Hammond

“COVID-19 has created so much chaos and uncertainty, and being part of a team that found solutions to problems affecting the maritime industry has been extremely rewarding.”

Rere Hammond has spent the past six months leading our COVID-19 Recovery Team, a role she is particularly proud of. “It’s been an honour to work with a group of subject matter experts who are dedicated to supporting the industry and prepared to go the extra distance,” she says.

Having grown up on Paraparaumu Beach, Rere says water has always been a big part of her life. Below she tells us more about what lured her to Maritime NZ and what her role as the manager of our COVID-19 Recovery Team entailed.

How long have you worked for Maritime NZ?
I joined Maritime NZ two years ago, and have been in the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Teams since February 2020.  At the end of July, I’ll finish my secondment with the COVID-19 Recovery Team and take up a new role as Principal Advisor with the Sector Engagement and Collaboration Team.

Please tell us a bit about your background...
I grew up on Paraparaumu Beach and many of our weekends were spent at the Kapiti Boating Club with our little Starling yacht.  My father owned a transport company in Upper Hutt when I was little and on the days I got to hang out with him on the truck, I always enjoyed the trips to the port (back before safety and security was a major consideration). Watching the vessels come and go and the straddle carriers in operation always mesmerised me.

My wider family has always been involved in the maritime sector, from the merchant navy to deep sea fishing vessels. My first holiday job was on the wet fish line at Sealord, sometimes processing fish off the fishing vessel my own brother was on.

Water is a big part of my life, and joining Maritime NZ seemed like a natural fit so when the opportunity came up, I jumped at it.

Before Maritime NZ, I spent eight years at Fire and Emergency (NZ Fire Service). I worked with the Operational Leadership Team managing the National Coordination Centre that operates during large events and disasters, both domestically and internationally (where the New Zealand Urban Search and Rescue teams were deployed).  I was keen to stay involved in emergency response when I joined Maritime NZ, and was invited to lead the Maritime Incident Response Team’s planning function.  This then led me to being part of the original Maritime NZ COVID-19 Response Team as the Planning Manager, before joining the Recovery Team.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
Typical day...that’s a good question. The only constant is my team and I meet every weekday morning to look at what’s at the top of the priority list for the day and week.

I spend a lot of my day meeting with other border agencies and stakeholders, and reviewing current matters.  Gathering and sharing information is a big part of our role and leading a team that engages with the industry both in person or virtually, or through newsletters and emails is an important part of each day.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
Problem solving. COVID-19 created so much chaos and uncertainty at the beginning (and still does even now), and being part of a team that found solutions to problems affecting the maritime industry has been extremely rewarding.

One of my team’s primary objectives is to support the recovery of the maritime industry, and we’ve worked hard to meet that objective.  We’ve had a number of small wins and slightly bigger wins, and these make it all worth it.

What do you find most challenging?
The uncertainty of COVID-19 has been the biggest challenge. We have no end date for this, and are very aware of the curve balls the virus may throw at us.  Being able to prepare and plan for certain situations and how they may play out involves a lot of consultation with the All-of-Government COVID Response Team, our COVID-19 Recovery Team, and Maritime NZ colleagues.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
I really can’t narrow it down to one thing.  The industry is full of hard working and down to earth people.

I love that lifelong friendships and strong connections are formed in the maritime industry, and it’s amazing how most people you meet seem to have a link to Ngawi or the Waterloo Tavern.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
I’ve had many proud moments in Maritime NZ, but having the opportunity to lead the COVID-19 Recovery Team was the proudest moment for me. It’s been an honour to work with a group of subject matter experts who are dedicated to supporting the industry and prepared to go the extra distance.

What is your biggest achievement to date?
My husband and I have raised five amazing human beings who have grown, or are growing, into confident and kind people. 

What are the values that drive you?
Authenticity.  I believe that if you have a genuine interest in what you do and the people you interact with, you build up a better understanding and appreciation of their own drivers.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I’m a chef by trade, so my kitchen is my happy place.  It’s not unusual for me to spend an entire Sunday cooking and baking.

I also enjoy spending time with my teenagers, who are still quite happy to be seen in public with me.

Dominic Venz

Dominic Venz

“Working for the maritime industry gives me the opportunity to use my skills and experience and still be involved in the maritime scene without heading off to sea again for long periods.”

Domonic Venz’s love of fishing dates back to when he was a teenager in Kaikoura, giving a semi-retired cray fisher a hand “working the pots”. His passion then took him to sea with Talley’s, Sealord and Sanford, before he became a master of a cable survey ship. Apart from another two-year seafaring stint, he’s spent the past 23 years at Maritime NZ, drawing on his extensive experience to “improve the way we do things for the better of all parties”. 

Here’s Domonic on the path that led him to his current role of Compliance Manager (South Island), the work he’s currently focusing on, and some of his biggest achievements.

How long have you worked for Maritime NZ?
I started in 1998 as a Maritime Safety Inspector in Nelson. In the early 2000s, I went back to sea for a couple of years, then returned to Maritime NZ in 2003 as Specialist Investigator working out of Nelson. I’m lucky to have worked in a variety of compliance roles, including Senior Specialist Maritime Officer, Deputy Compliance Manager and now Compliance Manager leading the team that looks after all of Te Wai Pounamu.

Please tell us a bit about your background...
I was born in Kaikoura in 1970 and, after shifting around a bit (both my parents were teachers), we eventually settled down in Kaikoura again. As a teenager, I started spending the weekends and holidays with a local semi-retired cray fisher, giving him a hand working the pots.

At 17, I slipped the ropes and completed a pre-sea cadet course at Nelson Polytechnic and then went to sea with Talley’s then Sealord and Sanford over the next few years.

It became apparent to me early on, when looking up from the deck of an Orange Roughy trawler in the middle of a gale, that the wheelhouse looked way better than the deck. And so I embarked on the journey of getting my tickets as soon as I could.

I’ve worked on a wide variety of fishing boats, and was Master of a cable survey ship and then Master of a patrol ship for a few years, which was a massive change from hunting down fish for a living.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
A normal day sees me doing a fair bit of swivel chair action in front of the computer. I try to get out and meet people as much as I can. I’m currently leading work on improving audit systems for MOSS and commercial jet boat operators to make it easier for them to comply, removing regulatory burdens, and ensuring they get maximum value from their interactions with Maritime NZ.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy making a difference across the maritime sector and improving the way we do things for the better of all parties.

What do you find most challenging?
Sometimes being stuck in the office can be a drag, but getting involved and helping deal with a complex issue is very rewarding.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
Working for the maritime industry gives me the opportunity to use my skills and experience and still be involved in the maritime scene without heading off to sea again for long periods.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
I guess it’s being involved in some pretty big investigations over the years, when our team has worked really well together under sometimes very trying conditions. A good investigation can lead to helping those left behind after a fatality to understand what happened to their loved ones and what changes can be made to reduce the chance of similar events occurring again.

What is your biggest achievement to date (personal or professional)? Personally, it’s raising three lovely daughters into adulthood and getting them through university…phew! Professionally, it’s been working to pull together and develop a great team here in the mainland.

What are the values that drive you? I’m a very transparent person and try to live with integrity, commitment and respect.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
We live in the Marlborough Sounds and have recently bought a boat, which is now mooring in the bay. So when we’re not spending money on it (as you do), my family and I are out exploring the Sounds and fishing (though I do find catching one fish at a time pretty boring!).

Kirstie Hewlett

Kirstie Hewlett

“The maritime industry is a critical contributor to New Zealand’s social, cultural and economic outcomes and future prosperity, whether through the movement of vital freight, connecting people to jobs and social opportunities, recreational and tourism activity, or via the sectors that rely on the sea.”

“I’m looking forward to helping to deliver these outcomes and to making the sector a success by ensuring the important regulatory foundations on which they stand work well to manage safety, security and environmental sustainability,” says Kirstie Hewlett, Maritime NZ’s new Director and Chief Executive.

We asked Kirstie about everything from the skills and experience she’s bringing to her new role and what she’s planning to focus on first, to her biggest achievement to date and her ‘mission’ in life.

What are you most looking forward to about stepping into the role of Maritime NZ’s Chief Executive?
I’m looking forward to having the ability to make a difference to the maritime sector and the opportunity to lead a respected organisation with committed people.

What skills and experience will you bring to the role?
I bring strong regulatory experience from having worked for over 20 years on regulatory design and implementation in a number of sectors. I also bring a passion for improving safety, after experiencing the impacts of regulatory failure on families and communities. I have some knowledge, and experience, of working with the maritime sector, and a strong track record of partnering with stakeholders to deliver positive system change.

What are you planning to focus on during the first few months?
Besides focusing on getting the basics of the Director role nailed, I want to spend my first few months getting out and about and meeting people from Maritime NZ and the stakeholders who work with Maritime NZ. I’m keen to understand people’s perspectives of what’s working well, what needs to change, and how people want to work with the organisation.

What do you anticipate will be your biggest challenge?
Managing expectations. There is a range of future challenges in relation to maritime emissions, security, and how the ocean is managed, various views on how we could continue to enhance how we work with other regulators and the sector, funding and other issues from COVID-19 that need to be addressed, and the list goes on. The challenge will be working with the organisation, sector, and other agencies, to ensure we continue as a robust regulator, and have a shared view on priorities, as well as a realistic plan for addressing these over the next few years.

What appeals to you most about working for the maritime industry?
The maritime industry is a critical contributor to New Zealand’s social, cultural and economic outcomes and future prosperity, whether through the movement of vital freight, connecting people to jobs and social opportunities, recreational and tourism activity, or via the sectors that rely on the sea. The key thing that appeals to me in working with the maritime industry is helping to deliver these outcomes and making the sector a success by ensuring the important regulatory foundations on which they stand work well to manage safety, security and environmental sustainability.

What’s your ‘mission’ in life?
To positively impact the staff, sector, and New Zealand as a whole, in every job I undertake.

Which one word best describes you?
Invested.

What’s your biggest accomplishment (professional or personal)?
I led the design and implementation of an international air freight scheme which has kept planes flying to and from New Zealand during COVID-19. The Scheme has helped to ensure that exporters reach markets offshore, medicines keep coming to NZ, and businesses get the crucial imports they need to keep operating. It has also supported the ongoing operation of our aviation system, kept vital links to Pacific countries, and helped thousands of New Zealanders come home.

What are the values that drive you?
Service, integrity, collaboration and courage.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
When I’m not working I enjoy spending time with family and friends. I have two children in their early teens, so the parent taxi service I run keeps me pretty busy. I also enjoy travelling and gardening.

Isabel Herstell

Isabel Herstell

“The maritime industry is critical to New Zealand, so it’s nice to play a meaningful part in ensuring that the protection of the marine environment remains a focus of ours, as the maritime regulator.”

After growing up in a sailing family, and studying marine science and ecology as part of her Master’s degree, Senior Advisor Isabel Herstell has developed a passion for doing her bit to help keep New Zealand’s waters clean.

Below Isabel reflects on the path that led her to Maritime NZ, some of her proudest moments from the past 12 months, and some of the values that motivate her.

Please tell us about your background…
I was raised in a keen sailing family, so we spent a lot of our spare time at sea. When I was not thinking about or spending time on the sea, I was reading books, tramping and climbing with my dad, or travelling.

I moved to Wellington eight years ago to study for my Bachelors and Masters at Victoria University (with a focus on marine science, genetics, and ecology). During this time, I got to explore beautiful islands around Australia (Lord Howe Island, Heron Island, and Stradbroke Island).

I joined Maritime a year ago – during the last few weeks of level-4 lockdown. It was a curious experience meeting my team mates in person for the first time, once restrictions eased.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
My day usually includes a wind-swept walk through Lyall Bay to my bus, followed by a coffee with a colleague, work, gym, and quality time with friends or my partner.

Our work can be extremely varied – at the moment it’s an assortment of different environment-related projects. Some recent examples include:

  • attending International Maritime Organization (IMO) Pollution Prevention and Response meetings
  • preparing for regional oil spill responder training
  • providing a technical/science perspective on amendments to rules and regulations, or exemption requests, and
  • reviewing a New Zealand Oil Spill Control Agent application.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
The subject matter (the environment), the variety, and the team.

What do you find most challenging?
When I first started, I found learning the new regulatory framework challenging. Now I really enjoy manoeuvring through the different legal instruments.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
The maritime industry is critical to New Zealand, so it’s nice to play a meaningful part in ensuring that the protection of the marine environment remains a focus of ours, as the maritime regulator.

What’s your proudest moment(s) at Maritime NZ?
Some proud moments to date would have to include: witnessing the hard work our frontline port workers continue to do while COVID-19 persists, and my colleague Shailesh being appointed by the IMO as an International Evaluator/Auditor after being recognised by a majority of member states.

What is your biggest achievement to date?
Since starting at Maritime NZ, my biggest professional success would be representing New Zealand twice as a delegate at IMO meetings for both Pollution Prevention and Response, and the Marine Environment Protection Committee.

What are the values that drive you?

  • Act with integrity and kindness.
  • Consider ‘success’ as the success of the collective, rather than the individual.
  • Remember we’re only borrowing this planet from future generations – so let’s try to leave it a little better than how we found it!

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
Relaxing, adventuring, and socialising (in equal parts).

Victoria Wise

Victoria Wise

“Being a tiny part of a larger machine that ensures our waters remain safe, secure and clean is what I like most about working for the maritime industry.”

Certification Advisor, Victoria Wise, gets a sense of satisfaction out of helping people. It’s little wonder then that her ‘proudest moment’ at Maritime NZ was when she provided guidance and support to many seafarers through the ring-fencing process. Six years into her career with us, she’s now broadening her skills by training to become a maritime officer.

Here’s Victoria on what her typical work day looks like, some of the projects she’s been involved in, and what she enjoys most about working for the maritime industry.

How long have you worked for Maritime NZ?
I started on a three-month contract and, in the blink of an eye, six years have flown by. Although I’ve stayed in the same team, things are always changing so I’ve had the opportunity to work on different projects, including ring-fencing (protecting) old seafarer certificates.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
A typical day for me is normally in the office and is pretty sporadic. My role requires me to be available to give advice at any time, so I can write a list of things I want to get done, but priorities change daily and even within the same day. Providing advice, along with processing seafarer certification applications, make up the core of a typical day in the Certification Team.
I’m currently focusing on broadening my skills within the maritime officer space. I’ve been training on an investigation and my next focus will be on obtaining a health and safety qualification.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy being able to help all types of people – others within Maritime NZ as well as seafarers, companies, lawyers, etc. I feel a sense of satisfaction when, as a result of my advice, someone can accomplish what they’re trying to achieve.

What do you find most challenging?
It’s occasionally assumed that everyone at Maritime NZ comes from a seafaring background (e.g. was a skipper or engineer) so engaging with those who hold this assumption can sometimes be difficult. Delivering advice that either challenges someone’s views or stops them from being able to do something they wish to do can also be tricky.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
I love the passion everyone within the sector has for the industry. There are so many different moving parts, there’s always something new to learn about and become involved in. I feel a real sense of importance in what we do, considering how much New Zealanders love the water. Being a tiny part of a larger machine that ensures our waters remain safe, secure and clean is what I like most about being working for the maritime industry.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
I’m most proud of providing guidance and support for many seafarers through the ring-fencing process. The result was several years of work and ring-fencing over 15,000 old seafarer certificates for more than 7600 people.

What’s your biggest achievement to date?
I’m only a couple of months off being eligible to apply for citizenship and this gives me a massive sense of achievement and pride.

What are the values that drive you?
Reliability, respect, fairness, and open-mindedness.

Please tell us a bit about your background...
I’m originally from England and come from an advisory background, having worked with Hull and East Yorkshire County Councils. I left England in 2010, and spent two years travelling around Australia in my campervan before settling in New Zealand. I contracted for a few years (in finance), then secured a contract with Maritime NZ, and the rest is history.

Although I don’t have a specific seafaring background, I grew up in Hull where my father worked in the Merchant Navy, so I think the seed was planted from a young age. When I arrived in Australia my passion for the water grew – I was always either in it or on it. This has continued here in New Zealand.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I spend a lot of time at the gym – the place and people are amazing. We’ve become a bit of a family and I’ve got into powerlifting as a result. I also love watching the rugby, so I’m looking forward to the Super Rugby season starting again.

Natasha Hallett

Natasha Hallett

“To be able to champion port security, as well as support and show women they have a role to play in this industry is awesome,” Senior Advisor Natasha Hallett says of winning a Women in Security Award in 2020.

The award, which recognised Natasha’s commitment to improving maritime security in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, is just one of her many achievements since joining Maritime NZ eight years ago.

Here’s Natasha on what her typical day looks like, the challenges she faces, particularly during the current COVID-19 environment, and her proudest moment (apart from hearing she’d won the award).

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
A typical day? Well, that varies a lot (which is a good thing for my personality type), but mostly I’m in the office, attending either all-of-government meetings or virtual meetings with the Pacific Island countries and the United States Coast Guard. Once the borders are open again, I’ll spend a mix of my time in the Pacific while virtually attending all-of-government meetings back in New Zealand.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
The enjoyment I get from my role stems from lots of things, but the major contributor is the people I interact with. Whether I’m working out in the ports, in the Pacific, or in meetings across government, it’s the people that make my role enjoyable and support the success that follows.

What do you find most challenging?
COVID-19 environment aside, the aspects I find most challenging are dealing with people who are not open to flexing. The maritime sector is not static, nor black and white, and the ability to flex becomes really important to ensure you’re considering all possibilities. 

In the COVID-19 environment, my number one challenge is attending meetings online. Virtual meetings don’t provide me with the ability to read rooms and identify those important social cues. I also miss the general watercooler conversations – they provide more situational awareness than people realise.   

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
I enjoy the variety of the work and the opportunities to learn about different parts of the industry. The very fact that it’s such a huge, varied playground means there will always be learning opportunities.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
Assisting a Pacific Island country in enhancing its maritime security capability is what I’m most proud of. It’s been an honour to be in a position to help create an environment that allows that country to enhance its potential, and to then see that potential grow over the years.

There are some other moments I’d love to highlight but I can’t, so I’ll just say ‘relationships’. It goes back to the connections you make and having the ability to reach out with trust at any given time and get the support you need.

What is your biggest achievement to date?
My biggest professional achievement is winning the Executive section of the Women in Security Awards Aotearoa 2020. To be able to champion port security, as well as support and show women they have a role to play in this industry is awesome.

What are the values that drive you?
While I could list all my values, I thought I’d take a different approach and discuss the outcomes I seek to achieve to be the ‘real’ me.  The term ‘meta-leadership’ was introduced to me during my study in emergency management – it’s a leadership framework and practice method traditionally used in crisis situations.  To me though, not only should it be used in times of crisis, it should be utilised in peacetime. It’s this that drives me.

The Harvard Kennedy School defines the framework holistically as “intentionally linking and leveraging the efforts of the whole community to galvanise a valuable connectivity that achieves unity of purpose and effort.” The values that are needed to ensure this occurs are important too.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
When I’m not working I spend time with my family and friends. I also love travelling (when it’s permitted), and I continue to undertake postgraduate study with a few local college night classes thrown in for fun.

Please tell us a bit about your background…
Prior to working for Maritime NZ, I was with the NZ Police for just over 10 years. During this time, I had a variety of roles and spent my final years in the intelligence and national security areas. I was also involved in incident response in the intelligence team which included participating in all-of-government exercises.

Brendan Comerford

Brendan Comerford

“Watching new entrants develop from nervous ‘newbies’ into confident world-class distress and safety communicators, while also observing their growth in competency is still very exciting,” says Maritime Operations Centre Manager, Brendan Comerford.

Brendan has managed the Maritime Operations Centre as part of Kordia, Maritime NZ’s technology partner, since 2003. Even though he’s been involved in safety communications since high school, he says he never stops learning. He reads every incident report and still gets “inspired by the whole ‘human factor’ in search and rescue”.

Here’s Brendan on the strong relationship between Kordia and Maritime NZ, the joys of working in the maritime industry and the challenges of working in search and rescue - “even resilient, robust people can be affected by some of the incidents they’re involved in...It’s all too easy to take the macho attitude, but sometimes people can start to hurt. Making it safe for people to say “actually, I’m not OK” is ongoing work.

How long have you worked with Maritime NZ?
I’ve been Manager of the Maritime Operations Centre since 2003, but have been associated with Maritime NZ since 1985, when it was the Maritime Transport Division of the Ministry of Transport.

I commenced with Kordia as one of the original radio operators in the Maritime Operations Centre in 1993, and before that I spent 10 years as a Morse operator in the previous Coast Station Service. I’d like to take this opportunity to correct an urban myth: when the Coast Station Service was established in 1911, I was not on shift...

Can you explain the relationship between Kordia and Maritime NZ?
Kordia has been associated with Maritime NZ since 1993. Maritime NZ is the customer and Kordia has become its technology partner in maritime communications and network provision.

Long-term relationships don’t happen by chance and are only sustainable if they’re based on common interests, and both parties are committed to a successful outcome. Having regular check-ins, open communication and trust are also key. We’ve spent a few years together, have acted as a single, combined Maritime NZ resource (Rescue Coordination Centre NZ/ Maritime Operations Centre) as and when required, and have a mutual respect for the strengths that both parties bring to the relationship.

I’ve been lucky enough to mingle with many Maritime NZ staff and gain a wider understanding of the multiple activities Maritime NZ is involved in. This interaction across multiple levels in both organisations has added a special dynamic to the long-term shared path.

In short, there are a few stormy days, and on those days, the trust element is important.

From the Maritime Operations Centre’s perspective, we aim to be the solid partner working collaboratively with Maritime NZ’s Rescue Coordination Centre, supporting the mutually desired outcomes, while still having the courage to be honest when improvements are needed. Established relationships and trust are most valued during the storm and not the calm. We talk a bit and meet up regularly…and this is for good reason.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
I’ve been involved in safety communications since leaving school, yet I still learn something new on a daily basis. Watching new entrants in the Maritime Operations Centre develop from nervous ‘newbies’ into confident world-class distress and safety communicators, while also observing their growth in competency is still very exciting. I also read every incident report and still get inspired by the whole “human factor” in search and rescue.

What do you find most challenging?
Search and rescue, in general, requires resilient and robust people, but it’s important to understand that even resilient, robust people can be affected by some of the incidents they’re involved in, and this can cause unwanted impacts, either at the time or in later years. It’s all too easy to take the macho attitude, but sometimes people can start to hurt. Making it safe for people to say “actually, I’m not OK” is ongoing work.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
When a mariner is in distress, the responder doesn’t have any filters of race, religion, politics, beliefs, status or orientation, and I think there’s some lesson in that.

I also get to observe committed professionals throughout the sector performing with dedication and commitment. Furthermore, there are long-term trusted relationships, and a sense of camaraderie with a garnish of fun and good humour.

What’s your biggest achievement to date?
Being a husband and father, and still being here.

What are the values that drive you?
There are only two elements in business: people and things. Only the first element requires permanent 100% focus.

Adele Whiterod

Principal Advisor Systems Thinking - Strategy, Planning and Governance

Adele Whiterod

“I’m proud of my time as Registrar of Ships and knowing I helped people to fulfil their dreams – whether it was to bring a commercial vessel to New Zealand to start operating, or to take a yacht on that longed-for voyage to the Pacific Islands and beyond, ” says Principal Advisor Systems Thinking, Adele Whiterod.

Registrar of Ships is just one of many roles Adele has turned her hand to over the years. Having joined the Maritime Transport Division of the Ministry of Transport in 1991, she’s worked for Maritime NZ (and its predecessor) for nearly three decades.

Here’s Adele on the work she’s currently focusing on, the people in the maritime industry “who are doing their best to contribute to a really important sector”, and how she’s as passionate today about the work Maritime NZ does as she was 29 years ago.

Tell us a bit about your background...
I’m originally from the UK where I qualified and worked as a legal executive in law firms in central London. I arrived in New Zealand in December 1989 and in 1991 I secured the role of Assistant Ship Registration Officer, which appealed because of my legal background. I was the Registrar of Ships from 1994 to 2010, and I loved it! I then had a spell managing the-then Certification and Ship Registration Team, during which time I was introduced to a systems thinking approach called the Vanguard Method. I’ve since built on my passion for systems thinking and business improvement in my current role in the Strategy, Planning and Governance Team.

How long have you worked for Maritime NZ?
I’ve had the privilege of working for Maritime NZ (and its predecessor) for 29 years! I joined the Maritime Transport Division of the Ministry of Transport in 1991. It became the Maritime Safety Authority in 1993 before changing its name to Maritime NZ in 2005.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
My days are varied and currently involve a combination of working from home and in the office. I can be working on mapping processes, facilitating process improvement workshops, or supporting my team with performance reporting.

One of my current focuses is piloting a performance measurement methodology aimed at creating meaningful measures that help to tell our story and demonstrate our value as an effective regulatory, compliance and response agency. I’m working with an enthusiastic and talented group from across the organisation. It’s hard work but we have fun at the same time and we’re all learning heaps!

What do you enjoy most about your role?
The variety – and the fact that I get to work with so many amazing people across Maritime NZ. I like being able to help people to think about how they can improve their work and to see improvements come to fruition that benefit both our people and the people we serve.

What do you find most challenging?
The variety in my work means I’m often involved in a lot of things at the same time, which can be challenging. I try hard not to ‘drop the ball’ and to manage my time effectively. It certainly keeps my brain active.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
In my extensive experience working with the maritime industry, I’d say it’s the people. Without doubt, the maritime industry is full of passionate people who are doing their best to contribute to a really important sector. And I’d say the same about the people within Maritime NZ too!

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
It’s difficult to pick just one moment from the many years. I’m definitely proud of my time as Registrar of Ships and knowing I helped people to fulfil their dreams – whether it was to bring a commercial vessel to New Zealand to start operating, or to take a yacht on that longed-for voyage to the Pacific Islands and beyond.

What is your biggest achievement to date?
I think my long tenure at Maritime NZ is an achievement, and I’m as passionate today about what our organisation does as I was when I first joined 29 years ago.

What are the values that drive you?
Maritime NZ’s values – integrity, commitment and respect – really resonate with me. Perseverance is also important for me – keeping focused on achieving the goal, even if it means having to overcome obstacles along the way.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I enjoying swimming – not just for the fitness, but because it gives me time to think. I also like to cook, especially when the menu includes fresh fish caught by my husband and son off the beautiful Kapiti Coast.

Jean Keddy

Operations Coordinator

Jean Keddy

“I feel proud to work for an organisation that has the goals of ‘clean, safe, secure’,” says Operations Coordinator, Jean Keddy. “And although I may play only a small part, I go home at night feeling that my contribution has assisted us in working towards these goals.”

Six-plus years after joining Maritime NZ as part of the Investigations Team, Jean is now a crucial member of our Compliance Systems and Planning Group.

Here’s Jean on some of the work she’s currently involved in, what she enjoys most about working for Maritime NZ, as well as her love of sea kayaking, scuba diving and fishing.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
No two days are typical, and over the past six years my role has changed a lot. When I started, I was largely involved with the Maritime Operator Safety System (MOSS) and assisting with intelligence products on SOLAS vessels.

Now, as Operations Coordinator, I work closely with many external government agencies, including:

  • The National Maritime Co-ordination Centre (NMCC) – a joint military/government agency group that assigns military assets to support agencies’ needs. For example, the group has tasked the Lady Liz vessel to conduct patrols for the ‘No Excuses’ recreational boating campaign, and enlisted P3 Orion aircraft to gather off-shore intelligence.
  • The Combined Law Agency Group (CLAG) – an all-of-government group working to support government compliance and intelligence-gathering activities.
  • The Integrated Targeting Operations Centre (ITOC) – a group made up of NZ Customs, Police, MPI and Maritime NZ that looks at security and environmental threats, predominately from international SOLAS vessels, as well as issues in and around the Pacific.

What do you like best about working for Maritime NZ?
I feel proud to work for an organisation that has the goals of ‘clean, safe, secure’, and although I may play only a small part, I go home at night feeling that my contribution has assisted us in working towards these goals – be that by tracking pending arrivals of poorly maintained vessels via our Vessel Alert System, or arranging a vessel inspection as a result of a Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) complaint.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
While working and raising a family, I spent eight years looking after my mother, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s. I was very grateful for all the support services during this time, so after my mother passed away – 10 years ago – I’ve devoted my spare time to giving back. I’ve worked for Meals on Wheels, Age Concern and, most recently, I’ve been spending my Friday nights preparing rooms for families arriving at Ronald McDonald House.

Fun facts about me:
My partner worked for Air New Zealand so my kids and I are fortunate enough to have travelled the world several times, visiting every continent (excluding war torn areas!) and most Pacific Islands.

I’ve also been tramping and exploring all over New Zealand – from Cape Reinga to Stewart Island. I have a sea kayak and enjoy paddling and fishing anywhere and everywhere I can. I live on the South Coast of the North Island, which is perfect for scuba diving, trail bike riding and fishing, not to mention awesome views.

Please tell us a bit about your background...
On returning from my OE, I worked as a consultant for Drake Personnel before moving to IBM and undertaking a variety of amazing roles during an eight-year tenure. In between raising kids, I studied for a Graduate Certificate of Human Resource Management at Australia’s Deakin University by correspondence. I then worked as a Human Resources Manager for 15 years before moving to NIWA as Logistics Coordinator for their three research vessels.

Louise Dooley

Chief Advisor Regulatory Policy

Louise Dooley

Louise Dooley came on board around two weeks before the RENA incident” back in 2011.

Now our Chief Advisor of Regulatory Policy, Louise is currently working on a regulatory stewardship strategy and a range of proposed amendments to the Maritime Transport Act, among other things.

“My focus, and I hope my enduring legacy, is on improving the maritime regulatory system so that it’s best able to deliver on its purpose,” she says

Here’s Louise on what she enjoys most about her role, the challenges of juggling time-critical projects, her extensive background in central government regulatory policy… and her sheep, Heidi and Honey.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
I mostly work from home, and my day always starts with a slow walk across my land with my dog Nessa da Bear, an inspection of my trees, and letting out my beautiful black nose Valais sheep, Heidi and Honey.

I start early and I try to get in a couple of hours at least on ‘big’ papers or projects. I’m currently working on the initial draft of a regulatory stewardship strategy for Maritime NZ and have, until recently, been involved in the organisation’s management of maritime levies issues. I’m preparing short papers on a range of proposed amendments to the Maritime Transport Act, which will hopefully be advanced by the Ministry of Transport under a Regulatory Systems (Transport) Amendment Bill in 2021. On an average day I receive one or two requests for advice on regulatory policy issues or review of policy papers, and I attend to those as quickly as possible.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy the autonomy and the ‘space’ I’m given to think in depth and detail. I really enjoy writing and research, and those things feature in my work. I also like the mix of planned and ad hoc work as that means I can ‘chip away’ at some of my bigger projects but also take a break from those and dive deep into discrete time sensitive pieces of work.

What do you find most challenging?
I like having lots on, but occasionally I’m in the position of juggling multiple time critical matters, and that can be mentally and physically challenging.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
I don’t see myself as working ‘for’ the maritime industry, but in my work I’m certainly aware of how important it is for regulated parties to be part of regulatory systems that are efficient, effective, proportionate, and responsive.

As a public servant, I ultimately work for the public (all New Zealanders using, working on, and playing on our coasts and waterways). My focus, and I hope my enduring legacy, is on improving the maritime regulatory system so that it’s best able to deliver on its purpose.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
After my work on the last Maritime NZ Funding Review I received a letter signed by all members of the Executive Team thanking me for my contribution. At the time I was doing the work (it was very hard work over many months) and saw myself as just doing my job – so it was an immense compliment and pleasant surprise to have my work acknowledged in this way.

What is your biggest achievement to date (personal or professional)?
The biggest thing – which is not so much an achievement, but a ‘getting to’ – is self-awareness and confidence in myself.

What are the values that drive you?
The Maritime NZ organisational values of integrity, respect and commitment very much resonate with me professionally and personally. Integrity – which for me is about being honest and being trustworthy – is probably my strongest driver and is very important to me doing my best work for Maritime NZ / the public.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I write poetry (never in iambic pentameter) and I read poetry or short stories pretty much every day. I walk my dogs a lot and enjoy spending time with my sheep. We have ten acres and there’s always lots of ‘land’ work needed – which I really enjoy.

My partner and I are also renovating a very big villa, as well as putting the finishing touches on the 130-year-old cottage we live in.

Please tell us a bit about your background...
I’m a career public servant and have worked in central government regulatory policy roles for 29 years, in such areas as food safety, the regulation of retirement villages, enduring powers of attorney, social security, social welfare, and lotteries and gaming. I have a Bachelor’s degree in English literature and human geography, and a Master’s degree in the epistemology of geography. I’ve also been progressing a law degree very very slowly. I intended to take a different sort of career path but am very happy with the one I took.

Heather Allen

Senior Advisor Certification and Registrar of Ships

Heather Allen

The people in the maritime industry are passionate about what they do,” says Senior Advisor Certification and Registrar of Ships, Heather Allen. "I haven’t come across anyone who isn’t helpful and willing to share their knowledge.”

After more than 15 years as a member of the Maritime NZ crew, Heather Allen has ‘come across’ more than a few people in the industry. She’s the person you talk to when you need to register your vessel for an international voyage, or to get a vessel certificate, or help solving a related issue – to name just a few things...

Here’s Heather on why, for her, there’s no such thing as a “typical” day, and what made her role in the reflagging of the Foreign Charter Fishing Vessels as New Zealand ships her proudest moment at Maritime NZ.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
I’m an early starter so I’m in the office by 7.30am. Quite a few people know this, so the phone usually starts to ring not long after!

I don’t think there is a “typical” day. I try to plan my days so I know what I’m doing, but one phone call or email can throw this completely out the window. I’m mostly involved in ship registration and the certification of vessels and operators, so in any one day I could be advising someone on how to get a particular certificate or trying to find a solution to an issue, processing applications and contributing to various projects. One of my main roles is to support the certification team, so I could also be training someone or helping with a difficult question.

My current focuses are the America’s Cup project – we’re looking at how we’ll manage the certification of vessels operating during the event, the amendment to Marine Protection Rule 102, and the insurance requirements for offshore installations. I’m also reviewing all our ship registration forms, guidance documents and procedures, which haven’t seen much change in a very long time.

At the same time, I’m completing a course on International Maritime Codes and Conventions, which has given me a better understanding of the basis for a lot of New Zealand’s Maritime Rules.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
The huge variety of things we’re involved in, the fact that I’m always learning, and the people I come into contact with – my certification team, my wider Maritime NZ colleagues, owners, operators, surveyors…..the list goes on!

What do you find most challenging?
The huge variety of things we’re involved in. While it’s one of the things I enjoy the most, it’s also the most challenging. I may get a phone call from a vessel owner about one issue which then leads to something else and I need to make sure we cover everything. For example, I recently dealt with a ship coming from overseas which required 12 different certificates. We needed to be able to tell the ship’s owner what all the requirements were early on in the process – it would’ve been a disaster to get to the departure date and realise we’d overlooked something!

My husband tells me that I don’t switch off, and he hates it when we go away anywhere where there are boats – I’m always looking to see if I recognise any I’ve dealt with over the years!

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
I find the maritime industry really interesting as it’s so vast and, because of this, there’s always the opportunity to learn something new. Also, the people in the industry are passionate about what they do and I haven’t come across anyone who isn’t helpful and willing to share their knowledge.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
The reflagging of the Foreign Charter Fishing Vessels as New Zealand ships. It was quite a stressful time, as a large number of vessels needed to be registered before a certain date in order to continue fishing in New Zealand. We had to do quite a bit of juggling to work around the different issues, such as survey requirements and the timing of when the ships were due to be deleted from overseas registries. But we did it, and all the vessels were registered before the deadline of 1 May 2016.

What is your biggest achievement to date (personal or professional)?
I really struggle to name my biggest achievement. I’ve achieved lots of things over the years –completing courses, learning new skills, running successful events for groups I belong to, and having great friends and family. These have helped make me the person I am today, so I guess it’s the small things in life that matter!

What are the values that drive you?
I believe in always doing the best job possible and keeping the promises I make.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
My husband and I have a classic American car so we often travel around the country to different car events. We also spend a lot of time at Riversdale Beach in the Wairarapa, where we have a bach – weekends there often involve golf, fishing or just taking our dogs for walks on the beach. This is where I relax, so I get a bit grumpy if I don’t get over there as often as I’d like!

Please tell us a bit about your background…
My work background was definitely non-maritime – I spent 11 years working in the trustee industry, mostly drafting wills and administering estates and trusts.

Maritime-wise, I grew up in Petone so we were always in, or on, the water. My brother was involved in sea cadets so I used to tag along with him, and a family friend had a Noelex 25 so I sailed with him for quite a few years.

Chiquita Holden

Victim Support Officer

Chiquita Holden

“Each victim has unique circumstances, so responding to their own situation is important,” says Maritime NZ’s Victim Support Officer, Chiquita Holden.

Having worked with victims for over 15 years, Chiquita plays an important role in our legal team, providing support to people affected by maritime incidents. The job is a perfect fit for Chiquita, who also grew up in a seaside community where, she says, she was lucky to have the ocean at her backdoor.

We talked to Chiquita about her desire to make a difference to those who have been affected by maritime incidents, as well as to see a greater level of support for the victims Maritime NZ and other regulators work with.

Please tell us a bit about your backgroud...
I grew up in a seaside community where we spent a lot of time either in or on the water. Whenever a boat came through the harbour, we’d get static interference on our old TV, which was our signal to look out the window and see what kind of ship was coming in. Boating was part of our programme at primary school too, so both at home and school I was lucky to have the ocean at my backdoor.

My work background is focused on supporting victims – I’ve spent around 15 years supporting people affected by a range of different incidents, with a particular interest in improving the support to families affected by homicide.

I’ve also worked as a casual crew member on a charter boat and absolutely loved the experience. When I saw the role advertised at Maritime NZ, I couldn’t believe there was a role that combined all the things I love.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
Each victim has unique circumstances, so responding to their own situation is important. A typical day will see me talking to different victims and supporting them – either by providing information, assessing their needs, or referring them to other agencies that can help. It really depends on what has happened, who I’m talking to, and what stage they’re at in their journey.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
The sense of purpose – if I can make something easier for others, I feel like I’ve achieved something. I’d really like to make a difference. While you can’t change what’s happened, you can help people in a meaningful way to make things a little easier. Some victims might need to go to court, which, on top of everything else, can be quite daunting. Being able to help victims understand this process or support them directly at court can help them feel less overwhelmed.

What do you find most challenging?
It’s quite a challenge to make sure the rights and needs of victims are recognised. Unlike for police-reported crime, where there’s a lot of support and recognition for victims, the people we support don’t receive the same level of attention. This can create barriers. I’d like to see more recognition and a deeper understanding of the victims Maritime NZ and other regulators work with.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
I think I’m really lucky to work for Maritime NZ. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the things I love combined in a job advertisement – there’s actually a job like this! It’s also a great privilege to work for an organisation that has an understanding of, and is committed to, supporting victims.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
It’s hard to write about being proud – usually I’m involved because something bad has happened and I can’t do anything to change that. It’s probably the small things – like seeing someone progress on their journey. I can’t really take credit for that as it’s more down to them than anything I do. I know I can’t change things, so I aim to support people to make their experience easier in some way.

What is your biggest achievement to date (personal or professional)?
I’ve recently been training for a 100km event, which unfortunately didn’t go ahead due to COVID-19. This would have been my biggest physical achievement and, while I didn’t get to complete it, during my training I realised something important: In the past I’d set myself goals and completed them – half marathons, 10km runs, and an ultra-walk – but what I’d actually done was set limits. I could really only get as far as the ‘goal’ and that was it. Changing my thinking from set limits to bigger goals meant that any 5-10km walk became a routine walk, not an event or challenge. I’m looking forward to completing the 100km next year and setting some goals that extend beyond my limits.

What are the values that drive you?
Integrity – being honest, accountable, respectful, and making sure my actions are guided by doing what’s right.

Compassion – when you strip everything back, caring for others matters most.

Victims’ Rights – I’m committed to working with victims and helping to make a difference.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I really enjoy getting outside and walking local tracks, spending time at the beach, and being with family. I love getting out on the paddle board or kayak during the summer months.

Anjini Ram

Assistant Accountant

Anjini Ram

Anjini Ram has been working hard behind the scenes at Maritime NZ for 14 years, moving her way up through the ranks of our finance team.

She attributes her loyalty to Maritime NZ to our “friendly working environment”, and to supporting “such a complex and interesting industry”.

Anjini chatted to us about how she always wanted to work in finance and about how proud she is to be part of such a hard working team. She also mentions how growing up near the sea in Fiji makes a career with Maritime NZ such a natural fit.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
My days vary a lot. I look after accounts, making sure that the various accounting and tax regulations are followed and suppliers are paid on time. I also provide support to managers and staff who need help resolving financial issues.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
It’s very rewarding! I really enjoy the variety of work, learning new things, being able to use modern technology to solve problems, and having a deep understanding of how the business works. I also like working with my team and with people across the organisation. It’s a really friendly working environment and one that’s always allowed me to exercise my skills and knowledge. Since I started 14 years ago, my career has continued to develop.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
Although I don’t work directly with people in the maritime sector – I provide support in my role at Maritime NZ – I still find it such a complex and interesting industry.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
I’m proud to be part of the successful Financial Operations Team. We’re team of seven people, each of us committed to working together to achieve a shared goal.

What are the values that drive you?
Respect, commitment and kindness.

Please tell us a bit about your background:
I was born and brought up in Fiji, where I lived close to the sea and always enjoyed swimming and picnicking by the beach. I’d always wanted to work in finance, so studying for a Diploma in Business Studies and Accounting was an easy choice. I then began my career with the Pacific Island Forum as Secretariat Purchasing Officer, overseeing the buying of products, evaluating vendors, negotiating contracts and preparing reports on orders and costs.

After marrying a Kiwi, I moved to Wellington in 2006, and began my extensive career with Maritime NZ as a Temporary Administrator. I later joined the Finance team as Finance Officer Accounts Payable, a role I’m still loving today.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I like cooking, watching Bollywood series and spending time with family and friends.

Shailesh Sinha

Senior Advisor (Human Factors), Maritime Systems Assurance

Shailesh Sinha

You may have already met Shailesh Sinha – either in person or over the phone.

A key part of his role is providing expert advice on things like seafarer certification, maritime school course approvals, inspections, and exemption applications, while also clarifying maritime rules and international conventions for stakeholders. Shailesh has been with us since 2014, and has been a help to many in the industry since then.

As well as his biggest achievements at Maritime NZ – which include representing New Zealand at International Maritime Organization meetings – Shailesh talked to us about what excites him most about working with the maritime industry, and what he’s focused on at the moment. He also outlines the path that led him to where he is today...

What do you enjoy most about your role?
The amazing thing about my role is that it varies from one task to another, so it requires a range of leadership skills. I especially enjoy opportunities where I can use my expertise to educate and influence people, while developing and maintaining strong relationships.

Before the COVID-19 lockdown, my role also involved attending forums and International Maritime Organization (IMO) meetings, which I enjoy.

What do you find most challenging?
Giving consistent, robust and pragmatic technical advice that’s easy for stakeholders to understand can be quite challenging. It requires a lot of preparation, including making sure we comply with maritime laws, policies, international regulations etc. I also need to think from a policy maker’s perspective to make sure my advice is feasible and operational.

Another challenge is giving advice in areas that have no set precedents. This requires innovative solutions.

What do you like best about working with the maritime industry?
The maritime sector is a very dynamic, competitive and complex global industry, which is currently going through tremendous technological developments. As a mariner, I find this fascinating and I enjoy the challenge of keeping up with developments.

Also, this industry involves collaborating with people from all around the globe – and I really enjoy working in such a diverse environment.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
I’m a morning person and prefer to start my day with at least an hour of chanting. It helps me to stay positive, calm and focused.

Every day is very different, and that’s what I love about my role. I spend most of my time providing advice about things like seafarer certification, maritime school course approvals, inspections, examiners, exemption applications etc. At the same time, I help stakeholders by clarifying maritime rules and international conventions, both remotely and face-to-face.

I also write memos to the Maritime NZ Executive Team and papers for the IMO. And recently I’ve been focusing on reviewing and optimising Maritime NZ’s processes and procedures.

I’m also currently leading a review of the maritime qualifications that lead to National and STCW (International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers) and STCW-F (International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel) certificates. We review qualifications periodically to ensure they remain relevant, fit for purpose and continue to meet the needs of the learners, industry and stakeholders. This project involves working with organisations such as Competenz, which develops skills for industry, as well as the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) and training providers.

In the midst of all this, I keep myself updated with international trends and relevant legislative changes.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
I value the simple things in life and any little achievement is a proud moment for me.

My proudest moment is representing New Zealand in the international arena at various IMO meetings as a delegate or head of a delegation.

I also feel proud when I see Maritime NZ’s people growing, both personally and professionally, and when I provide solutions to emerging issues.

What is your biggest achievement to date (personal or professional)?
Being part of a supportive family, obtaining a Master’s of Mechanical Engineering with merit, and being a citizen of this beautiful country are my biggest personal achievements.

Professionally, my experiences working in both government and private sectors, representing New Zealand at the IMO and other international meetings, being New Zealand’s IMO Auditor and a STCW Evaluator, are some of my biggest achievements.

Please tell us a bit about your background...
I was born and brought up in India. After graduating as a Mechanical Engineer, a Singapore-based shipping company sponsored me to study marine engineering at the Singapore Maritime Academy. I then worked as a marine engineer, managing the operations and maintenance of onboard container ships and tankers plying their trade worldwide.

I then changed my career focus to the Singapore oil and gas industry, working as a mechanical engineer, managing design and engineering projects.

My next move – to Auckland to pursue a Master’s of Mechanical Engineering – facilitated a transition from an operations role to the management side of engineering. After getting my master’s, I worked for a design and manufacturing company based in Hamilton before joining Maritime NZ as a technical advisor.

What are the values that drive you?
Patience, perseverance, commitment, respect and kindness.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I’m an active member of Soka Gakkai International NZ, a Buddhist non-profitable organisation, where I meet people for group chanting and discussion sessions. Other than that, I’m very passionate about travelling and learning about new cultures, food and people.

I also enjoy reading management and leadership articles and books to keep myself motivated.

Mike McMurtry

Senior Oil Spill Response Planning Advisor

Mike McMurtry

“We’re all about environmental protection,” Senior Oil Spill Response Planning Advisor, Mike McMurtry, says of his team – the Marine Pollution Response Service.

When he’s not responding to oil spills, Mike is involved in everything from Pacific Island risk assessments to reviewing offshore industry contingency plans. “I want to leave ‘a better New Zealand’ as our legacy,” he says.

Mike chatted to us about the many things he turned his hand to before joining us three years ago, the joys and challenges of his role, as well as his proudest moment at Maritime NZ . He also mentions how much he loves the water…

Please tell us a bit about your background…

Like many others, I have a pretty diverse past: Eight years as an avionics engineer for Air New Zealand, followed by five years at Auckland University to gain a Marine Ecology MSc (Master of Science). I then spent over a decade with Auckland Council in an environmental monitoring and research role, which involved roaming the region’s great outdoors, often in very remote areas. I did plenty of boating (purchased a few vessels for the council too) and led a team of commercial (scientific) divers. Over time, the role became mind-bending, with more of a focus on the design, build and implementation of databases for council, and a few national biodata projects.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?

My days are really varied! I could be working on anything from Pacific Island risk assessments to offshore industry contingency plans, or responding to events both here and overseas. So far these have included the Fox Rover Landfill Response on the West Coast of the South Island, and shipping casualties in Fiji and the Solomon Islands. I’m currently working on an oil spill response intelligence capability project and a range of localised plans for our Regional Council partners, while also preparing to deliver workshops and training.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy the people, the variety of tasks, the challenges and stretching towards goals, the constant learning, and the honour of working in environmental protection.

What do you find most challenging?

A couple of things… firstly, navigating the legislation, which can be quite ‘fun’ (thanks to the Legal Services team for patiently answering my long list of questions). Secondly, overseas responses can be complex – I’m on a steep learning curve.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?

We’re all about environmental protection. I want to leave ‘a better NZ’ as our legacy. What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ? Being identified as a future On-Scene Commander – it will take a while to grow into the role, but it’s a huge compliment to be selected.

What’s your biggest achievement to date (personal or professional)?

Crikey – too hard to pin down! I’m very proud of my role as a dad, as a husband and I love all aspects of my life – it has been peppered with fun, interesting, and stimulating achievements. But I do wish I could have said “my career as an astronaut!”.

What are the values that drive you?

I have a long list, but the top 10 are: Adventure! Passion! Integrity. Commitment. Awareness. Sensitivity and kindness. Wonder! Improvement! Treading lightly.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

I love the water! There’s nothing better than the whole family catching waves – our kids (Liv, 15 and Koby, 13) are tireless surfers and body-boarders. We mainly hit the East Coast North Island beaches – we’re not hard-core West Coasters! And I’m a pretty keen diver, too. Diving is so Zen.

Otherwise, my wife Jade and I are very into music – we go to lots of gigs, and love to discover new releases or artists. Our tastes are mainly rock, but we check out a pretty diverse range of styles. I also play in a 5-piece rock covers band – it’s such a fantastic outlet, and the guys are hilarious – it’s just end-to-end laughs!

Mark Scully

Principal Operational Policy Advisor – 40-Series Policy Lead, Regulatory Policy

Mark Scully

“This is real work that will make life better for people who have to work with the current rules,” Mark Scully says of the 40-series reform project he’s currently leading.

Mark sees lots of parallels between the maritime industry and the construction sector, where he spent a large part of his earlier career. “Even though the detail is quite different for ship design, construction and equipment, I’m able to use my building knowledge as a way to approach understanding it,” he says.

Mark talked to us about what his typical day entails and how he enjoys the challenge of coming up with solutions for difficult problems, which is hugely beneficial for his work on the 40-series reform project. He also explains the similarities between his background in construction and his current role.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?

I lead the policy development for the 40-series reform project. The 40-series rules deal with design, construction and equipment on ships. A typical day is spent interrogating the current 40-series rules, identifying the issues, and proposing and then testing possible solutions. The project is at the initial design stage – developing a draft framework. We’ve also asked the industry to talk about their problems and experiences with the rules so we can take these on board. Once we have something that looks like it might work, we’ll consult the sector – which should be later this year.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy the challenge of working on difficult problems and coming up with solutions. This is real work that will make life better for people who have to work with the current rules.

What do you find most challenging?

Reforming the 40-series rules presents a lot of challenges – over 600 pages, thousands of rules, 50 pages of definitions, multiple rule parts, duplication, repetition, inconsistencies, often unhelpfully prescriptive. Lots of amendments have been made over time without transition provisions, which means it’s quite difficult to know which standard applies to a particular ship. All of that needs to be sorted out.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?

Although it might seem strange, there are lots of parallels with the construction sector, where I’ve spent a large part of my career. The work is often quite tough and there’s always machinery involved – it’s technical work. Like the construction sector, maritime people are practical and focused on solutions. Exchanges are often pretty direct – you don’t get too much waffle. I’m very comfortable with that approach. There are regulatory parallels as well. Buildings are designed and constructed and have systems – e.g. fire safety appliances or means of access and egress. Even though the detail is quite different for ship design, construction and equipment, I’m able to use my building knowledge as a way to approach understanding it.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?

One of the things I’m proud of is the guideline called ‘Health and Safety: A Guide for Mariners’ which provides an overview of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. It was pulled together in a short time, looks great, and explains the Act in an accessible way.

Please tell us a bit about your background...

I started my career as a carpenter and ran my own business for some years. My wife supported me through university and I became a building inspector in my thirties. From there I moved into the Building Industry Authority, which became the Department of Building and Housing. My first job there involved auditing how well local authorities were issuing building consents and managing inspections, before establishing and then operating the Licensed Building Practitioner scheme. During this time, I took part in the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) programme and gained a Masters in Public Administration. I then moved on to WorkSafe before joining Maritime NZ in 2016. In my first role at Maritime NZ, I helped implement the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA). I’ve been involved in a variety of work since then.

What is your biggest achievement to date?

At the risk of seeming corny, my biggest achievement is my relationship with my wife Craigie and raising two fine sons.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

My wife and I are walking the Hump Ridge Track in Southland at Easter. I did quite a bit of tramping when I was younger, but in later years we’ve tended to go on guided walks where you only carry a day pack. This will be 60km over three days carrying a pack, so we’re both a bit nervous. For the past few weekends we’ve been hiking with packs to train for the trip.

Sharyn Forsyth

Deputy Director – Communication and Stakeholder Engagement

Sharyn Forsyth

Sharyn Forsyth came on board as Maritime NZ’s first ever policy analyst in 1998. Twenty-one years and numerous roles later, she now leads our Communication and Stakeholder Engagement group.

Sharyn has always had “a passion for ensuring that industry voices are heard and valued within Maritime NZ”, and as a result, she’s built strong connections across the industry. Today she’s deeply committed to making a difference by working alongside the industry to achieve better ‘safe, secure and clean’ outcomes.

Sharyn talked to us about the path that led her to where she is today, and how she continues to find her work with the maritime industry both interesting and rewarding. She also mentions the achievements she’s enjoyed and challenges she’s faced along the way...

How long have you worked for Maritime NZ?

Twenty-one years! I joined as Maritime NZ’s first ever policy analyst, and I’ve changed roles every few years since then. After working in the policy area (which I ended up managing), I looked after internal audit, risk and government relations, then project managed the early stages of a review of safe ship management (which preceded MOSS), before taking up an operational management role. I was responsible for the maritime safety inspectorate, technical advisors and industry liaison team for a while, then the certification team, technical advice and operational policy. Now, and for the past year, I lead the group responsible for internal and external communication, stakeholder engagement, privacy and OIA requests, recreational boating and Maritime NZ’s contribution to the America’s Cup.

Please tell us a bit about your background...

I was born in Waiouru, as both of my parents were in the army. We moved around a lot, mostly in South East Asia, but settled in Wellington just before I started high school. School and I didn’t get on well, so instead of continuing to study, I worked as a registry clerk in a government department for a year. Unfortunately, the government department and I also didn’t get on (mainly because I was 17 years old and didn’t appreciate the importance of doing what my manager told me to do), so I moved to Christchurch to study political science and linguistics. After gaining my Master’s Degree, I worked as a researcher/policy advisor in the transport area, through which I met Russell Kilvington, Director of the Maritime Safety Authority. Russell suggested I come to Wellington to work for him… and here I am 21 years later (having added a husband and three children along the way)!

I’m often asked about how I can stay in one organisation for so long without being “institutionalised”. Because my role has changed so often I’ve always found the work interesting, and because I’ve been lucky to have managers who’ve supported me to try new things and work through any mistakes, I’ve been challenged sufficiently to not get bored. I’ve always had a passion for ensuring that industry voices are heard and valued within Maritime NZ, and as a result, I’ve not only built strong connections across our diverse industry, I’ve developed a deep commitment to making a difference by being part of a regulator that works alongside the industry to achieve better ‘safe, secure and clean’ outcomes.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?

A typical day starts with checking my emails, then spending most of my hours in discussions (meetings!) with various internal and external people. We either talk about specific issues, or just check in on what’s happening and what we need to focus on. I try to do a lot of listening, and to encourage people across the organisation to connect with each other. I also try to make sure I’m focusing on vision and direction, rather than telling people to do too much.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

It may be a cliché but I enjoy feeling like I’m making a difference to people in the work I do – either those within Maritime NZ, or those in the industry. I also like having a huge amount of freedom to do what I think is right to achieve our organisational outcomes.

What do you find most challenging?

The people! I sometimes find it challenging to remember I can’t fix everything immediately, and that it’s not all about me, it’s about how I can best play my part in the maritime industry. I also struggle when dealing with people who don’t appear to want to treat each other with respect, or to achieve to their potential. But I’ve learnt the hard way that I don’t have all the answers, and that I need to listen more than I talk.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?

A bit of a theme here – the people! I work across the whole of the maritime industry, and people are universally open, welcoming and focused on safety and environmental outcomes, as well as sustainable business (if they’re on the commercial side). I like the diversity and the honesty. You know where you stand with people in the maritime industry – they say it like it is. I’d far rather have that than pretense. Oh, and the ships are pretty cool too!

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?

My proudest moments have been seeing staff whose careers I’ve played a role in developing, progress and achieve, and the times I’ve heard that something I’ve done or said has made a difference to someone personally. I’m perhaps a bit different from a lot of senior managers in that I talk and write about fairly personal experiences. I do this to reassure staff that we’re all human – we worry, we’re anxious, and we fail and screw things up at times. I want everyone to know that this is normal and okay, and that what we do at work doesn’t define us as people.

In terms of work outputs, I was involved in setting up what’s now the NZ Safer Boating Forum, and FishSAFE. Both were partnerships across sectors that have led to unity of action and, I believe, improved safety outcomes.

What is your biggest achievement to date?

I started an organisation supporting parents of transgender and gender diverse children in 2015, and now over 430 families throughout New Zealand are members. It’s entirely parent-led, although we partner with Rainbow Youth, InsideOUT, and the Human Rights Organisation to make sure parents and children get the support they need to live great lives. My biggest achievement is knowing that many families and children have had the lifeline they needed because of my simple decision to not let any other family feel as alone as we did.

What are the values that drive you?

It’s easy to list off a set of values, but I believe every person wants to do their best, and that my role is to ensure that they’re given the information, feedback and support they need to do so. I also believe people deserve to be treated with respect and everything that brings, even when they’ve done something that seems unexplainable.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

I enjoy spending time with my children, I go swimming (in nice, warm indoor pools) and try to walk the hills of Wellington as much as I can. I listen to music, read, and do fine embroidery. I’m starting to get in to gardening (something my younger self would be horrified by!). I’m also always studying – at the moment I’m doing a Diploma in Human Development at Massey University.

Eva Maxwell

Business Operations Coordinator - Marine Pollution Response Service

Eva Maxwell

Eva Maxwell grew up surrounded by the sea in the “really special place” that is Great Barrier Island. So it’s fitting that Eva now dedicates herself to protecting New Zealand’s marine environment in her role as Business Operations Coordinator for our Marine Pollution Response Service.

Now in her fifteenth year at Maritime NZ, Eva particularly enjoys engaging with our National Response Team and Regional Council responders, and sees our relationships with these groups as crucial because “if we need to respond, we rely heavily on their support”.

Eva talked to us about everything from the projects she’s currently focusing on, to her ‘True North’ - the internal compass that helps guide her through life.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
I start with yoga in the morning, before juggling my work based on current priorities. I’m involved in a few projects at the moment, including an Incident Notification project to improve the way we communicate internally when an incident occurs. I‘m also involved in a GIS project - reviewing and improving our field data collection apps and dashboards for incident responses.

I’m the coordinator for our National Response Team for Oil Spill Response, so at the same time, I’m always on the lookout for exceptional people to join our team.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
I really enjoy the variety of work I get to be involved in. I’d say the engagement with our National Response Team and Regional Council responders is probably the most enjoyable - it’s really important for us to have good relationships with these groups; if we need to respond, we rely heavily on their support.

What do you find most challenging?
There seems to be a never-ending amount of work to do! It’s important that we’re constantly reviewing how we do things to make improvements and to keep up with evolving technologies. It’s been another really busy year, and I’m looking forward to some downtime this summer.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
Earlier in the year I presented to a couple of hundred attendees at a conference in New Orleans. I’ve never enjoyed speaking publicly, and I don’t know many people who do. However, I made sure I allowed enough time to plan my presentation, and managed to do a really good job. I think nerves are actually a good thing. Being nervous makes you work harder - and you feel great afterwards. I’m starting to think that maybe I’m just excited, and not nervous, before presenting.

What is your biggest achievement to date?
I recently completed the Australian Maritime Safety Authority Incident Controller Level 2 course. I haven’t had the opportunity to exercise or respond in the Incident Controller capacity before, so I wasn’t sure how I’d go. The course was excellent and provided us with lots of tools and techniques, and thankfully, the feedback I received from my assessors was really positive.

I learnt that the role is fundamentally about managing your team and encouraging them to be high performing, and meeting all the required outputs, while remaining calm and confident.

What are the values that drive you?
Many, many, years ago I attended a values-based leadership workshop, which included discussing the concept of finding your ‘True North’ - the internal compass that guides you successfully through life and helps you stay on track. After a couple of days of activities and talks, each person came up with one word to summarise their ‘True North’. My word was ‘fun’. It really resonated with me. I often think about that and how important it is that I’m having fun with whatever I’m doing, and if other values that are important to me - such as respect, enthusiasm and transparency - are in force, I feel like I’m living my ‘True North’.

I also believe it’s important to be completely engaged in whatever you’re doing and to take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way to continuously develop yourself.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I love the ocean and am completely drawn to it, so you’ll find me either fishing, surfing, swimming, walking the beach, or just looking at the ocean. I also enjoy travelling and exploring - there’s so much to see and do!

Please tell us a bit about your background...
I grew up on Great Barrier Island, which I feel was a huge privilege - it’s a really special place - before moving to the mainland to go to boarding school. My career began in Las Vegas where I was a Personal Assistant for a Gold Mining/Exploration company, a role which involved travelling to Europe, Canada and many places in the USA. I missed New Zealand too much though, so I came back, and enjoyed some office support roles before stepping into my current position at Maritime NZ in 2004.

Pelin Fantham

Deputy Director - Compliance Systems Delivery

Ginni Murray

Pelin Fantham is driven by a desire to make a difference and says she can see how her group “makes a difference to the maritime industry every day”.

After working for ship classification society, Det Norske Veritas (now DNVGL), in both London and Singapore, Pelin came on board eleven years ago, and now heads up our Compliance Systems Delivery group.

Among other things, we talked to Pelin about the joy and challenges of working for the industry, and learnt that she’s always prepared to put in the hard yards - in her spare time as well as at work...

What do you enjoy most about your role?
One of the key things that drives me is making a difference and I can see how the work my group undertakes makes a difference to the maritime industry every day. We fulfill the ‘why’ in Maritime NZ’s aim of keeping New Zealand’s seas ‘safe, secure and clean’.

What do you find most challenging?
Accidents or incidents can be challenging, especially if someone is seriously injured or killed. We play a really important role here. Not only does our work hold people to account, it helps bring a degree of closure for victims, whanau and family, it helps ensure that the same type of accidents don’t happen again, and sometimes it helps us understand how we can do things better ourselves. Accidents and incidents are also a good reminder about the importance of our work - they put a face to what we do - and our work to improve safety really does matter. When someone is liable it’s so important that we do the right thing and make quality decisions supported by our compliance operating model. As the decision maker, I don’t take that task or responsibility lightly!

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
I don’t think there’s such a thing as typical day. The group I manage has a broad variety of compliance roles - auditing, certification functions and investigating as well as assisting people - so that keeps things varied and interesting.

One key piece of work my group is currently leading is ‘Health and Safety in Ports’, a collaborative project involving us, WorkSafe, industry and unions.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
The industry is complex and interesting. Also as an island nation, the industry is vitally important to us as a country.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
Honestly, there are so many I couldn’t define one particular moment. I’m proud seeing the fantastic work my group does on a daily basis and I’m very proud to lead a group of such dedicated individuals.

What is your biggest achievement to date (personal or professional)?
I’d probably say it’s my running achievements. I went from not being able to run from one lamp post to the next (literally) to running marathons and a couple of ultra-marathons. It takes hard work, dedication and consistency to get there.

What are the values that drive you?
Integrity, equality and fairness are all pretty important to me. I think if you keep those in mind then you’re on the right track.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
Well, apart from running (which I admit takes up quite a lot of my spare time), spending time with family and friends enjoying fine food (another reason to run!) and conversation.

Please tell us a bit about your background...
I’ve worked in a variety of regulatory leadership, management and senior management roles across the organisation since coming on board 11 years ago. Before Maritime NZ, I worked for ship classification society, Det Norske Veritas (now DNVGL), originally out of its London office and then Singapore.

Kelly Garmonsway

Programme Manager, America’s Cup

Kelly Garmonsway

When she was a child, Kelly wanted to run away to join the French Foreign Legion. But being a girl and growing up in New Zealand, she had to make do with life on land - until 1997 when she signed up for the Royal New Zealand Naval Reserves.

Kelly spent the next ten years as a reservist, sometimes spending weeks at a time at sea. It was an experience that would set her on a path to Maritime NZ, where she’s currently Programme Manager for the America’s Cup.

We talked to Kelly about her extensive career - on land as well as at sea - and what a typical day looks like for the leader of the 36 th America’s Cup Project Team.

Please tell us a bit about your background…
I was raised in Karitane, a small fishing village north of Dunedin, and joined the Royal New Zealand Naval Reserve in 1997. I was cross-trained in two branches and served on a vessel on which the key roles were shared, so I worked as everything - an administrator, deckhand, medic, cook and a firefighter.

It was an interesting time to be a reservist. Our vessels were survey vessels - they were designed to survey routes in and out of harbours for mines (this was called ‘mine counter-measures’) but that wasn’t all they did. Reserve vessels served a variety of purposes. They were used in previous America’s Cups as on-water command centres and were also involved in the search for Ben Smart and Olivia Hope after the pair disappeared in the Marlborough Sounds.

An event that sticks in my memory was the recovery operation for the Southern Air Cessna that lost power and landed in the Foveaux Strait. HMNZS Moa found the plane and lay out the markers for recovering the aircraft.

More recently, I was part of the team responsible for implementing the Royal Commission’s recommendations on the Pike River Coal Mine tragedy. I then led a large scale, two-year multi-agency programme, to implement the Underground Mines Emergency Protocol, which was developed in response to one of the Royal Commission’s recommendations.

My career with Maritime NZ began in early 2016 as a Senior Operational Policy Advisor.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
A typical day starts with an early wakeup call to take one of the most scenic commuter train trips in New Zealand - between my home in Masterton and the office in Wellington. At work, I’m currently focusing all my time on preparing for the 36th America’s Cup, which involves a significant amount of industry and cross-government discussion and project planning as well as policy development and implementation. I feel really privileged to be working with such a great team of passionate, enthusiastic and driven people.

At the end of the day, I relax on the long train journey home and wind down with my three wonderful children.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
The people involved in the maritime sector - both Maritime NZ staff and industry members - are authentic and passionate about what they do.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
It’s really hard to pinpoint a single proud moment, given every bit of work we do contributes to a much larger picture. But I was really pleased to have worked with the New Zealand Maritime Pilot’s Association - and to assist them to deliver their own industry guidelines that could be endorsed by Maritime NZ.

What are the values that drive you?
I find the words of well-known astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, go some way toward reflecting my own values:

“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you.”

What do you find most challenging about your role?
Nearly every core piece of work I’ve completed since starting at Maritime NZ has been challenging, but it has also been an opportunity to increase my skills. The key opportunities presented in these challenges usually enhance my life in three areas:

  • building better relationships
  • increasing technical competency
  • increasing self-awareness.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy the challenge of working to tight timeframes. I also really enjoy the high level of people management and engagement involved my role. Above all, it’s the people I work with internally and externally that make this a job I love doing.

What is your biggest achievement to date (personal or professional)?
Personally, I think my biggest achievement is my three wonderful children. My oldest son is a talented actor, who has acted for, and alongside, some internationally renowned kiwi acting elites. My daughter is talented in mathematics, coding and the sciences, and is in every gifted class made available to her, and my youngest son is a very talented footballer who has recently received dispensation from Wellington Football to play up two grades in the premier grades. He’s also a fantastic all-rounder academically and a great little showman.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I really enjoy taking my children on outdoor adventures and exploring the world around me. I also love being at home. My primary source of stress relief is cooking, so I do a lot of technical cooking that requires intense concentration. It’s a form of active relaxing that helps my brain to rest.

Michelle Lough

Operations Advisor

Woman on wharf

Michelle Lough’s grandfather was a ship’s agent, and her dad went to sea aged 15 as ‘ship’s boy’, later following in his father’s footsteps. So it’s little wonder that, despite her “father’s protest”, Michelle found herself working in the industry.

Michelle has been putting her lifetime of industry experience to good use at Maritime NZ for nearly 10 years now, and currently belongs to our Policy Delivery Guidance and Support team.

We asked Michelle about her background in the maritime industry and discovered she was even married at sea! Michelle also shared her proudest moment at Maritime NZ, what her typical day entails, and what she likes most about working for the maritime sector.

Please tell us a bit about your background...
I grew up in Nelson surrounded by the maritime industry. My grandfather was a ship’s agent and my father went to sea aged 15 as ‘ship’s boy’ (yes, that was an actual position), and went on to become a shipping agent. So I guess it was inevitable, despite my father’s protest, I’d end up working in the industry.

I started my career, nearly 30 years ago, as Shipping Officer for the NZ Kiwifruit Marketing Board (now Zespri). I then moved to Auckland and took on the role of Vessel Co-ordinator for the Nedlloyd business unit at Seabridge. When Seabridge announced it was closing its doors, I decided to run away to sea. Well, to clarify - I joined my partner Richard*, a Master Mariner, for the next 10 years as he worked onboard a variety of world-wide trading vessels. I earned my keep by doing the paperwork for each port and reporting for victualing (food provision), bond and crew wages. We were married onboard a Renaissance cruise ship off Cadiz where Richard was Staff Captain and I worked wherever there was need - escorting shore excursions, purser, spa receptionist and even filling in for the nurse.

Eventually Richard’s employers offered him a position at their head office in Cyprus to implement the International Ship and Port Facility (ISPS) Code. I became Crewing Superintendent for another ship management company and was managing the crewing department before we returned to New Zealand. I then started a contract with Maritime NZ, working in the Seafarer Licensing team and, as they say, the rest is history.

*Richard Lough has also worked for Maritime NZ for the past 10 years. He’s a Senior Technical Advisor in our Maritime Systems Assurance team.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
I was part of the large team from across Maritime NZ that was responsible for implementing the new requirement for float-free EPIRBs on fishing vessels**. We knew that making EPIRBs compulsory had the potential to save lives and this gave the project a real sense of purpose. I’m really thankful that a float-free EPIRB was activated when a fishing vessel overturned off the coast of the Chatham Islands recently. The alert from the EPIRB was received by our Rescue Coordination Centre and helped save the lives of three fishermen.

What are the values that drive you?
My father - the shipping agent - instilled a really strong work ethic. You do what’s necessary to get the job done, you are loyal and you treat people fairly.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
I’m an early starter - I try to do my serious reading first thing while it’s quiet. There’s a fair amount of research, reading and planning required in my role. I work closely with subject matter experts across Maritime NZ and within the industry, so meetings - whether formal or impromptu - are a daily occurrence.

My work programme currently includes drafting a position statement on stability requirements when towing, refining a checklist for auditing ‘recognised organisations’, and external consultation on a guideline for surveyors and operators.

What do you find most challenging about your role?
The variety of work and subject matter is both challenging and rewarding. I’m currently doing some work in the Design and Construction space. I really enjoy the research and getting into the detail. However, I find it quite challenging to get a good understanding of a technical subject I’m not familiar with.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
It’s the people. I’ve had some great opportunities working both within New Zealand and overseas. The thing that’s always resonated with me is the passion people have in the industry. Most of us rely on the sea or waterways as a source of income, a place to play or a means to transport goods and services. I believe there’s a real connection for those working in the marine environment.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I like pottering in the garden, fishing (when conditions are right), cooking for family and friends, and watching a good game of rugby while curled up on the couch.

** Float-free EPIRB distress beacons that can activate automatically became compulsory on commercial fishing vessels from 1 January 2019. This applies to those vessels between 7.5- 24 metres operating outside enclosed waters.

Jo Sweetman-King

Operational and Strategic Planner

Woman on boat

One of the many talented women in our crew, Jo Sweetman-King has spent half her life working for Maritime NZ (she won’t admit how many years that is!) and was recently seconded to the role of Operational and Strategic Planner for the Maritime Systems Assurance team.

We asked Jo about her role at Maritime NZ, including what her proudest moment is, what her typical day entails, and what she likes most about working for the maritime industry.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
I’m really proud of the work I did to arrange the Tokyo Memorandum of Understanding meeting Maritime NZ hosted in Queenstown in 2014. The meeting is held in a different signatory country each year and involves delegates from all signatory countries. I’m pleased to say that with two years of planning the meeting went off without a hitch and all the delegates enjoyed visiting New Zealand.

What is your biggest achievement to date (personal or professional)?
My biggest achievement is raising my two boys, who are now 12 years old and soon to be 15 years old. Some days they present their own challenges but they are my pride and joy.

What are the values that drive you?
I’m a firm believer of the three Maritime NZ values - respect, commitment and integrity - both personally and professionally.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
I’ve just started a secondment to a role in my team that didn’t previously exist. At the moment, there are no typical days. I am busy preparing the Business Plan for the coming financial year and planning the work for our group.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy working with my team and across the organisation. No two days are ever the same at Maritime NZ and I love the variety.

What do you find most challenging?
To be honest, one of my biggest challenges can be wrangling everyone’s calendars to get them all in the same place at the same time!

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
I find the industry quite fascinating. It’s such a vast industry - we can be working on an issue related to fishing vessels one day and a cruise ship the next.

Please tell us a bit about your background…
After leaving high school I completed an office administration course at Hutt Valley Polytech (now Weltec). I then put my skills to work in a variety of industries before joining what was then known as the Maritime Safety Authority.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I’ve recently retired from 20 years of playing indoor netball once a week, so I’m looking for something to fill the exercise void. Besides that, I like to cook and hang out with my family and friends.

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